This was a commissioned project by my team at the “Day Job”. My former boss is retiring after 36 AND A HALF years (he hates when we shortchange him that half year) and I was tasked to come up with something to commemorate his time with us. I landed on creating a “Gentleman’s End Table” that housed his libation of choice, some etched glasses with the company logo, and anything else that I thought would make sense. I’ll show everything I added at the end.
What you will need to make this project:
Band Saw (optional)
Table Saw Sled
Lathe and lathe accessories (optional)
Wood of choice, about xxx board feet
Burl slice (I get mine from https://www.cookwoods.com/ - tell them I sent you!)
Scrap wood with one straight edge (or a jointer)
One 2x4 for a router sled
Spray paint (your color of choice)
Silicone tube & gun
Envirotex Lite epoxy resin (64 ounces)
Yorkshire Grit (I get mine here http://www.thewalnutlog.com/yorkshire-3/)
Hardware of choice (hinges, lid stays, handle, and clasps)
Baking Soda (optional)
Step 1: Dimensioning the lumber
The first step to any woodworking project is breaking down the lumber. I got some 8/4 cherry for the carcass, and I needed to get ¾” boards for the sides and ½” boards for the top & bottom. You could make this easier on yourself and buy the wood in these dimensions to begin with. For me, this started with re-sawing the board.
Once the wood is re-sawn, you’ll need to remove the band saw marks and flatten the wood. I do this at the planer. I run the board on both sides through the planer. This is called “skip planing”. Ideally you’d use a jointer here to make one side flat and then running the piece through the planer, but I don’t have a jointer, and this process works.
Once you’ve got your boards to the desired thickness (3/4” for the sides and ½” for the top & bottom), it’s time to move on to getting the boards to the desired length. I do this at the table saw, and I was aiming for xxx long for one side, and xxx long for the other side.
The last piece of dimensioning the lumber is to get the box to the appropriate height. Again, a jointer would be handy here, but I still don’t have one… Instead, you can make your own jointer sled by using a scrap piece of wood that has one flat side on it. It needs to be at least as long as your longest piece, and wider than your widest piece. This board will be what we reference against the table saw fence. Place some double-side tape on your reference piece, and stick the board you need a straight line on top of the reference piece, letting about an 1/8” hang over.
Once you have one flat edge on your wood, then you can remove it from the reference piece and run it through the table saw at your desired height – My table is xxx tall.
Step 2: Prepping your burl for the top
I bought a Red Collibah burl slab to use for this project. It was about 7/8” thick and I didn’t need it that thick, so I re-sawed the piece to get two pieces to use. But first, I needed to make two cuts so I could get a 90 degree angle on the piece. Pasty legs are optional J
I use a speed square to help get a 90 degree cut on the other side. Be sure to save these offcuts, we’ll use them later.
Step 3: Joinery
I used rabbits to add strength to the joints. I prefer this type of joint to a butt joint since you’ll get more surface to glue your pieces together. I achieve this through making multiple passes on my table saw sled. You’ll want to make it 3/4” long, and about 3/8” deep. These cuts go on each end of the two short pieces of wood. This will keep hide the joint from the front.
To join the top & bottom to the sides, I use my router to create a rabbit. I prefer to do it this way vs. using the table saw, but do what works for you. I use hot glue to glue a scrap piece of wood to my router to provide more stability. The bottom should be just a hair over ½ thick, and the top should be about 7/8” thick.
Rather than trying to math the length of your top & bottom, I prefer to use a relative measurement. Put your ½” stock into one end of your rabbit, and then get your length measurement by seeing where your board falls on the other side.
Step 4: separating the top of the box from the bottom
Rather than building the top and bottom separately, I prefer to cut them apart from the same stock. You get better grain and color matching like this. Start with the short side, and make your final cut on the long side. This ensures you have more stability when make that 4th cut. You’ll want to make the bottom 2/3 of the total height, and the lid should be 1/3. Dividing proportions in three’s ensure the box is visually appealing.
Step 5: Sealing the top – THE MOST IMPORTAINT STEP
Since we’ll be adding resin to the top, it needs to be sealed. You don’t want the resin to leak through and create a big mess. I’m speaking from experience here – SEAL IT WELL!!!
I use silicone along all 4 edges, and I glued the top boards together to make a panel. I also spray painted the top panel black since I don’t want any wood to show through. You can paint it whatever color you plan on making your resin.
Step 6: Gluing the burl to the top
I added some black mica powder to the wood glue in case there was any squeeze out. I didn’t want to see the glue and detract from the burl/resin combo. I also sanded the paint away from where I put the burl to ensure good adhesion.
This is about impossible to clamp, so I simply added weights. It worked fine.
Step 7: Preparing the resin
I used Envirotex Lite epoxy coating for this. You’ll need two full boxes or 64 oz.’s for this project. I added the entire contents of one box (32 oz.) to a mixing bowl. You’ll need to mix it for three minutes solid. Not 2:45, a full three minutes. Most problems people have with resin is not mixing it thoroughly. I use a paddle mixer in my drill to make this easier. I added a ton of black mica powder and liquid dye. I wanted this really opaque. I also added a silver mica and a white PearlEx powder. These will add some depth and shimmer to your color. Feel free to make whatever colors you want here, but I would advise to add some white PearlEx to your piece. I use it every time, no matter the colors.
Step 8: Pouring your resin – the fun bit!!
Go ahead and read Step 9 too, and you’ll need to do both steps at the same time.
Once you have your first layer of resin mixed, it’s time to pour it on your table. A big tip here is to pour just a little bit to see if you have any leaks. Once you’re sure it’s sealed, then add the rest of the contents.
Once you have the resin poured, you’ll need to use a heat gun to pop any bubbles. I prefer to use a heat gun vs. a torch since you can move the resin with it, not catch anything on fire (!), and you don’t run out of propane in the middle of a pour which could ruin your piece.
Let this layer cure overnight, or until it is hard and cool.
Now you’ll make a second layer of resin. Mix up the second bottle of resin the same as before (3:00!) but do not add the colors yet. Split the resin into two separate containers. Leave one half of the resin clear, and split the other half into however many colors you want. No more than three. I don’t have picture of this here since I only did black, but I’ve made a ton of resin pieces and the trick to making these beautiful is to get depth through multiple pours. Each layer you add, make it more and more translucent.
Step 9: The Handle
We’ll be making the handle from the piece out of the same resin and burl. Remember the burl offcuts from way back in Step 2? We’ll use them here. First, you’ll need to make a quick mold. Construct a small box with an open top, leaving the inner dimensions 2” x 4” x 6”. Glue and screw the sides together and seal the inside with silicone, just like we did in Step 5.
Add the burl offcuts to the mold, and the resin mixture from Step 8.
Let the handle cure for a few days before you turn it. If you do not have a lathe, you can simply buy a handle from the hardware store and skep Step 9 entirely.
Step 10: Flattening your table
I’ve tried multiple methods for flattening the top, but the best method I’ve found is to use a router sled. You can make one very easily with a few 2x4’s clamped to a flat table (I used my table saw). When I make my next sled, I’ll definitely make the 2x4’s much longer than the table top. My sled might have fallen off the edge and damaged my piece. Bonus internet points to you if you can find the damage I had to repair.
I hot glued the router to a 3/4” piece of plywood with a hole in it. Don’t use anything thinner as it might flex. Run the sled over the whole piece until the whole top is flat.
Step 11: Staining the wood
I am not a fan of pigmented stains, so I used a chemical stain for this piece. Before brushing the mixture on your wood, sand your table (not the top yet – we’ll tackle that later) up to 220 grit. For the mixture, simply mix 2 tablespoons of Baking Soda into 250ml of warm water. Brush this onto the wood, then sand using 220 grit again once it dries. The water will raise the grain of the wood, but a light sanding will smooth it right out.
Step 11: Finishing the wood
I prefer a natural finish to my pieces, and I love the Howards Feed & Wax. It’s a mixture of bee’s wax and orange essence. It really adds a warm glow to the color of the piece.
Step 12: Finishing the top
The top will need to be sanded to a much higher grit due to the resin. I sanded it up to 600 grit using my orbital sander, wiping off the dust between each coat with denatured alcohol.
I then added a woodturners paste wax (I use something called Yorkshire Grit). I wipe it on generously, then buff it out with a buffer.
Once I’ve worked the wax in fully - it’ll feel gritty at first, then the buffing will slowly make the grit finer and finer until it’s gone. This achieves a much higher grit than paper will get you. Then I add the same Howards Feed & Wax to the top and buff it out.
Check out that finish!!
Step 13: Turning the handle
Again, be sure this has cured a few days before you attempt to cure it. Remove it from the mold you made. I prefer a bandsaw here, a table saw needs a super sharp blade to cut resin well. Just be sure you remove any screws before you run it through a blade. Don’t ask how I know this.
The dimensions I gave you earlier will produce two blanks that are 2” x 2” x 6”. Mount it on your lathe and turn it into a simple cylinder. A more complex shape will only detract from the burl/resin combo (in my opinion).
I find the easiest way to hold the blank is in a chuck.
To finish the handle, I added a CA finish that turners use for pens. It is much more durable than a light waxing. There are numerous videos that show how to do a CA finish for pens, so I’ll omit that here. Once you have finished your turning, you’ll need to add the hardware to attach it to the box. Buy one of these Euro-style handles, and disassemble the spacers from the handle.
Counter-sink a hole into your top to accept the hardware spacers from the front, and drill a through hole for the screws from inside the box.
I then drilled holes into my handle and then epoxied them into place using 5-minute epoxy. Simple painters tape will hold it in place.
Step 14: The fiddly bits
To wrap up this project, you’ll need to add the hardware and your own customizations. You’ll need hinges, clasps, and lid stays.
After the hardware, I chose to add kaizen foam and then personalized this gift for the recipient. I added hand-etched glasses with the “Day Job’s” logo, a bottle of top-shelf Tanqueray, coasters, and the annual report from the year he began work. It’s held in place with leather straps and snap clasps. The salt and pepper shakers are an inside joke.
I also added some hairpin legs. I feel they complement the design by being simple and not detracting from the top. I want that to be the focal point.